Journal Article

Supermassive black holes, star formation and downsizing of elliptical galaxies

Antonio Pipino, Joseph Silk and Francesca Matteucci

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 392, issue 1, pages 475-482
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Supermassive black holes, star formation and downsizing of elliptical galaxies

Show Summary Details


The overabundance of Mg relative to Fe, observed in the nuclei of bright ellipticals, and its increase with galactic mass, poses a serious problem for all current models of galaxy formation. Here, we improve on the one-zone chemical evolution models for elliptical galaxies by taking into account positive feedback produced in the early stages of supermassive central black hole growth. We can account for both the observed correlation and the scatter if the observed anti-hierarchical behaviour of the AGN population couples to galaxy assembly and results in an enhancement of the star formation efficiency which is proportional to galactic mass. At low and intermediate galactic masses, however, a slower mode for star formation suffices to account for the observational properties.

Keywords: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation

Journal Article.  7089 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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